A couple from Northamptonshire have lost their High Court fight against extradition to the US over an alleged work expenses fraud.
Paul and Sandra Dunham, who live in the south of the county, have been pursued by the US Department of Justice over a claim they embezzled more than one million US dollars (£605,000) in illegitimate expense claims.
The pair “vehemently” deny the claims, and say the matter should never have become a criminal case.
Until 2010, Mr Sunham was chief executive, president and 20 per cent shareholder of PACE, a US company manufacturing soldering irons for the electronics industry.
Eric Siegel, the son of PACE founder, the late William Siegel, is pursuing the pair over alleged improperly claimed expenses arising from their relocation from the UK to Maryland.
The Dunhams reject the allegations, claiming all expense payments they received were properly accounted for and approved by Mr Siegel personally, as well as the company’s finance director, and were also subject to the external auditors’ scrutiny on an annual basis.
However, an untested criminal complaint filed in Maryland has caused the couple personal bankruptcy and mental distress.
Mr Dunham said: “We’ve been totally let down. Neither our government nor courts can see the injustice of sending innocent British citizens thousands of miles away to be jailed pre-trial without having examined a shred of evidence in the case.
“Without the Supreme Court or Europe’s intervention, we’re yesterday’s people. Our lives are shattered. The cruelty of this injustice is too much to bear.
“Unless someone intervenes at the 11th hour, we’ve lost our wealth, health, liberty and, likely, our lives – all due to one man’s vindictiveness and the complicity of our extradition legislation.
“It’s a monumentally sad day for Sandra and me, and for those who follow us on this conveyor-belt to the US.”
Michael Evans, of Kaim Todner Ltd, the Dunhams’ solicitor, said: “There were two simple steps the courts could have taken to relieve some of the suffering from my clients – refusing their extradition until the eve of trial, and insisting on a guarantee of bail on arrival until judgment.
“Sadly, the court has seen fit to ignore both options. The High Court found that it is “clear” the Dunhams would not get pre-trial bail; that the detention facility regime is plainly “harsh” and that the treatment of Mr Dunham’s mental health might be unsatisfactory.
“Nonetheless the court considered the considerable damage to the Dunhams caused by their extradition to be a price worth paying in order to honour our US treaty obligations. Yet again, the 2003 Extradition Act has a brutal effect.”